Recent Road Trip photos

Continental Divide, Colorado, June 2014

Here’s a non-art themed post! I thought I’d post some pretty pictures from some summer road trips I took this year. I went to Colorado, Texas, and Arkansas. (Two different trips.)

Road trips, with the intention of seeing pretty scenery, are a family tradition. I like seeing attractions like Disneyland too (I grew up going to Disneyland at least one or more times a year) but to be honest my favorite thing is to go see beautiful mountains, beaches, and lakes. And take lots of pictures. Maybe do a painting or two. (I had hoped to do some painting this time, but it was not to be! How foolishly optimistic I was to think I’d have time . . .)

On the way to Telluride, Colorado, June 2014.

Some of these photos will make great reference for paintings later, though!

Ouray, Colorado. Pretty tourist town with a stunning view. June, 2014.

We also tried to see some galleries and such in Colorado:

Ceramics exhibit at The Art Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. June, 2014.

We were investigating some spots in Colorado, because we’re talking (just talking, mind!) of moving there eventually. Colorado has some wonderful galleries and resources for artists. I loved The Art Center (not to be confused with Pasadena’s Art Center).

Aromatic trees in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. August, 2014.

In August I went to Texas and Arkansas. What I saw in Texas (I didn’t see much) was mainly a bunch of dead armadillos by the side of the road. I need to explore Texas more at a later time, because it is a great state!

In Arkansas, I wanted to see Crystal Bridges (a fantastic art museum in “Wal-Martville,” aka Bentonville, AR), and then visited the lovely tourist town Eureka Springs (about an hour away from Crystal Bridges). I took a lot of photos inside the museum, which I must transfer to my computer and prepare for publishing online.

Having lived the majority of my life in California, I have been spoiled by the intensely aromatic incense cedar found in the Sierras and other mountainous areas. When you drive up to Yosemite (which I have done countless times, it’s my favorite place!), your nose is suddenly struck with this glorious, pungent “pine” smell. Impossible to miss. I always associate it with the mountains.

So it makes me sad to not experience the same strong smell in Colorado or the forests in Arkansas. BUT—there is still some hope, because occasionally I get a whiff of it. In higher elevations in Colorado (Rocky Mountain National Park), I smelled the glorious pine smell. Not as strong as incense cedar, but unmistakable. And the same wonderful smell could be detected, albeit fleetingly, in Eureka Springs!

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A bit about alkyds… (overview/tutorial)

I’m going to add a brief entry to my “tutorials” section. It’s not much, but I feel badly that I haven’t been updating the blog as frequently. (It’s summer, what can I say? I went on another road trip last week.)

I’ve dabbled in alkyds (fast-drying oils) for a long time now. I first tried it in art school, many moons ago. I think that at the time we only had Winsor & Newton brand. The first impression I had of alkyds (back then) was that they weren’t as opaque as regular oils, and they had a kind of “waxy” texture. But they were quite workable, and I loved the fast drying time!

"Jason in Shadow," 5x7" alkyd on Gessobord. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the use of the stock reference photo.

“Jason in Shadow,” 5×7″ alkyd on Gessobord. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the use of the stock reference photo.

Here’s an alkyd study I did recently. Now we have several brands of alkyds to choose from, and they don’t seem as “waxy” as they used to, way back. But they are still quick-drying!

I typically use Liquin (an alkyd medium) when I paint in alkyds. This should help speed drying time more. I find that usually in less than a day (depending on the paint thickness) the painting is dry enough, and ready to be worked on again.

Here’s another recent alkyd painting (WORK IN PROGRESS!).

“Blue Hair,” 12×12″ oil (alkyds) on canvas panel. WORK IN PROGRESS!!!! Thanks to Cathleen Tarawhiti on DeviantArt for the stock photo I used as reference.

With “Blue Hair,” the painting was dry to the touch later the same day, so I was able to do some work in the morning/noonish, and do a little more later on in the day. Amazing! I love my alkyds.

Even though we have several brands of alkyds to choose from (as opposed to just W&N’s alkyds, back in the day), I wish there were even more brands and colors available. Winsor & Newton’s “Griffin” brand has recently discontinued all cadmium colors. I understand that they have probably made this decision because cadmiums have some toxicity, but cadmium “hues” aren’t the same—cadmiums have an opacity and denseness that cannot be replicated in “hues.” Fortunately, the other alkyd brands (C.A.S., DaVinci, and Gamblin) do still carry cadmiums.

Each brand of alkyd has their own properties. I think DaVincis tend to be very thick and stiff. (Kind of like Old Holland in that respect.) I will still use them, am very grateful for DaVinci’s line of alkyds, but given a choice, I prefer something a little more buttery. Gamblin’s “FastMatte” alkyds are pretty good, soft and buttery, though I wish they carried more colors. CAS is a good quality brand, but sometimes their customer service sucks if you order from their site. (Long, long story there. For another time!) Griffins have a good consistency and I think a decent pigment load, but I miss the cadmium colors.

Alkyds have, in some form or another, been around for many decades. I’ve heard that studies indicate that they are “stable” and I am comfortable using them. My old paintings done in art school still seem rich and vibrant as ever. As long as we use pigments that are strong and light-fast, I think they’re an awesome alternative to regular oils. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable to mix alkyds with regular oils. (Many artists use an alkyd white with their regular oils, which tends to speed up drying time on all the paints.) Some manufacturers of regular oils sell a “fast drying” white, which is often made with alkyds, for artists who enjoy the fast-drying properties of alkyds but don’t want to use a whole set of alkyd colors.

This page has a good overview of alkyds.

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An Apple, and Alkyds

My absence from this blog should not be interpreted to mean that I haven’t been painting! I’ve got several new works lined up, as well as other things, art-related, going on.

“Apple” 6×8″ oil on panel. Painted from life.

This was painted a few days ago, from a simple still life setup at my studio. I painted with fellow artist Diane, who has previously worked mostly from acrylics and wants to get into oils.

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